Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Farmer's Market Spa Day

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A friend has opted to forgo the traditional raunchy theme for her bachelorette party and make it a spa party.  She has even hired ladies to provide manicures, pedicures and the like during the party.  As my way of thanking her for this enlightened choice I have decided to put together a basket of spa goodies, all made from the most natural of ingredients.  
No chemicals, no fake stuff, just simple indulgence in its purest form, from the earth.
 Now that's some pampering that I can sink my teeth into!!

Lemon Tea Sugar Scrub:
(face & body)
A sugar scrub exfoliates the skin and removes old, dead skin cells to reveal new, fresher-looking skin.  Using green tea topically has nearly as many health benefits as drinking it!  Green tea on the skin can help to reduce inflammation, protect against UV radiation (applied after before and after sun exposure, though NOT as a substitute for sunscreen), neutralize free radicals and prevent cell damage, and it can even help to slow the progression of skin cancer and inhibit the development of melanoma.   
  • 3 tablespoons Epsom Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 Green Tea bags (just open tea bags and pour into the bowl)
  • 10 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Lemon Zest from 1 lemon
In a large bowl, mix salt, sugar, ant tea.  Next mix in the olive oil, then mix in the honey, finally, add the lemon zest.  Apply to skin in the shower (when your pores are good and steamy and open), scrub gently, then rinse off.

Papaya Anti-Wrinkle Facial:
Papaya contains the natural enzyme papain, which acts to naturally and gently remove the outermost layer of dead skin and reveal beautiful, fresh, new skin.  Be careful not to leave the papaya mask on your skin too long as it may be too drying- about 5 minutes is best.  Apply to clean skin, leave on up to 5 minutes, rinse with cool water and moisturize well.  We tripled this recipe to make enough to fill a small jar (and still had a little left).  
  • 2 tablespoons Mashed Papaya
  • 1 teaspoon Aloe Vera Gel  
To begin, open the papaya and remove the seeds.  Spoon the fruit into a small bowl and mash.  Add the aloe vera gel and mix.

To get the aloe vera gel; 
cut a piece from an aloe vera plant, 
split along one side with a paring knife, 
and then use a spoon to scrape out the gel.

Watermelon Toner:
Watermelon is a truly amazing, nutritionally powerful food that is just as good for you on your body as it is in your body.  The fragrance is delightfully fresh and uplifting and vitamins A, B, and C help to make your skin glow. My sister and I have been using this toner for about a week now and we can't remember having such lovely, youthful complexions!  We have kept ours in the refrigerator to prevent any spoiling.
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Watermelon Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Vodka
  • 2 tablespoons Witch Hazel
  • 2 tablespoons distilled water
 Get fresh watermelon juice by using a blender or food processor, or from an especially juicy melon (just be sure to strain out most of the solids).  Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Apply to clean skin daily.

Olive Oil Body Lotion:
This is my new favorite lotion!  Even though I was a little skeptical as I hadn't ever thought about beeswax in a lotion before, I use it after showering and on my baby's eczema and we have found it very soothing and nourishing to dry skin.  We love it!  The vitamin E in the extra virgin olive oil can help protect against UV radiation (applied after sun exposure- do not use in place of sunscreen), combat free radicals an cell damage, and can help treat eczema and psoriasis.  The oil does tend to separate, so be sure to give it a good shake before use.  Also, (not surprisingly) this lotion tends to be a little on the oily side- this is why I like to use it after showering, so that I can towel off any excess oil.
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated Beeswax
  • 1/8 teaspoon Borax powder
  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 3-5 drops Essential oil (your choice of scent, we used a ginger/citrus blend)
Combine olive oil and beeswax in a bowl and slowly heat in the microwave (about 60 seconds at a time) until the wax has melted.  In another bowl mix borax powder and water until dissolved, then heat to roughly the same temperature as the oil mixture.  Pour the borax mixture into a blender and mix on low while slowly adding the oil solution in a steady stream.  Put the blender lid on and mix on high for about 2 minutes.  Pour into a lotion bottle and allow to cool.

Honey Almond Lip Balm:
This. Stuff. Rocks.
Not only do I love it on my lips, but it works wonders on dry gardening hands and crusty, been-cooped-up-all-winter feet.  Also magical on elbows, and I think I'll make a batch with some eucalyptus oil to use on my babies when they're sick.  Color a batch with some fresh beet or berry juice and use on lips or cheeks!  With this recipe as a base formula, the possibilities of awesome-ness are endless!!! 
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons grated beeswax
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cocoa butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, heat slowly (about 60 seconds at a time) in the microwave until the wax has melted.  Then blend in a blender 1-2 minutes, pour into tiny tins or jars and allow to cool.
We have had a bit of trouble finding tiny tubs or jars for lip balm or lip gloss.  The ones pictured above came from the travel cosmetics section of a big box store.  The following websites may also prove helpful: DIY Cosmetics, Sunburst Bottle, or Lip Balm Tubes.

Lavender Mint Bath Tea:
The scent of mint can be elevating and brightening, and can help soothe a headache (even migraines). The healing benefits of lavender range from soothing joint pain, to warding off depression, to treating eczema. 
2-3 tablespoons each of the following-
  • Dried Lavender
  • Dried Mint
  • Sencha Tea
Add all ingredients in layers to a small sachet, spice or tea bag.  The sachet can then be hung from the faucet under warm running bath water.

Some recipes in this post are from the following books:
The Big-Ass Book of Crafts, by Mark Montano.
Natural Beauty for All Seasons,by Janice Cox. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chocolate Cupcake & Chocolate Mousse Parfait

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Savvy saves the day!!

A masterbaker I am not- that title is (deservedly) held by my sister.  
So when I decided one evening to experiment with a gluten free version of 
vegan chocolate cupcakes, I am not sure why I was surprised to 
wake up the next morning to this disaster...
These crazy little cupcakes had not only, ahem... undressed themselves 
from their papers wrappers, but they were also falling apart.  
Pull yourselves together naked cupcakes!!  

These cupcakes, and one small cake were made to celebrate a 3 year-old's birthday and there wasn't time to make another batch.  As I stared despairingly at the chocolatey crumbly mess, and the giant bowl of chocolate mousse that was made for topping, the savvy masterbaker saved the day.  
A few dessert cups, and some rearranging of ingredients and 
we had... parfaits!

And one stunning, drool-worthy 
decadent little cake!

What a beautiful mess this turned out to be :)
For the recipe see the Kitchen tab, or click here.
(although, I would suggest not deviating from the recipe the way I did by substituting rice flour...)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Green Tea Cupcakes!

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I made these for a potluck over the weekend 
and there wasn't a crumb left!   
These dainty little darlings are delectable!  They taste a lot like green tea ice cream, which I adore. 

Get the recipe under the Kitchen tab, or click here
I cut the sugar to down to 1/2 cup and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint and some pre-made edible frosting flowers.  The Matcha Green Tea powder was hard to find, but it was so worth the effort- there really isn't a substitute for the flavor.  I finally found mine at an Asian market (the Pacific Ocean Market, in Broomfield CO), and the recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen says that Whole Foods carries it too, and if you're the patient type, you could likely order it online.